What is Drobot ?
Drobot is my final year dissertation and project work for my college credits. The main aim of the project is to create a sustainable and contactless delivery solution to deliver the essential items using Drone with the help of software and cloud. Instead of focusing on delivering all the items, I currently focused on delivering the essential items which could be a potential life saver because of the drone ability to deliver faster and reach anywhere easily.
The main aim of the Drobot is to have a sustainable, autonomous and also a efficient last-mile delivery approach system which can deliver the essential items and serve people in urgent needs where in case of medical emergency or any accidents.
The idea behind Drobot came from the two situations which happened recently. One is the climate change and another one is the worldwide corona pandemic which made many countries to impose a severe lockdown restrictions.
In the above graph data statista, we can clearly see how much emission is emitted from Transportation sector over the past 5 years. However after a steady increase from 2015 to 2019, we can see a drastic fall in emission from vehicles in the year 2020. This is hugely due to worldwide pandemic and the severe lockdown delivery instructions placed by the government all over the world in a effort to combat the coronavirus.
Eventhough on a brighter side the lockdown brought down emissions down, it had a huge negative impact on delivery side. A lot of delivery supplies including essential delivery items came to halt or had to be delivered very late due to strict government lockdown policies. Another reason is the need of sustainable and autonomous delivery system to improve efficiency and combat climate change.
Since the world has learnt and changed different practices due to damaged suffered from pandemic, Drobot is introduced to create a bring an alternative and efficient way in essential supply delivery system.
What is last-mile delivery system?
Last-mile delivery system refers to last process in supply chain system where the delivery process takes place from the last delivery storage hub to user's address. As per the research last-mile delivery system is the least efficient process and accounts for 28% of the total budget. The below image helps in better understanding of the last mile delivery system. (Credits:- Merchantsfleet)
How Does Drobot Work?
Overall Process and Software
The first step of the process is the Drobot App – A specially designed software for this process, which is synchronized with Drobot Drone with the help of the cloud. There are several sets of essential items listed in the app for the user to choose and deliver by Drone. The software is designed in a way such that the whole booking process should be completed within three screens itself, since most of the essential items are booked in emergency cases. When the user orders a product through the Drobot portal / app, the requirements of the user are stored in the cloud and the order details are shared with the nearest controller station. The user's current location is also taken and stored in the cloud using the location permission in the mobile. A algorithm is implemented where based on the user’s location,we find the nearest controller station and assign it with the order. The people working at the controller station will check the order details through the Drobot software and load the items to the robot.
Once the item is loaded and all the checks have been made by the supply chain team, the drone starts to depart to its destination for delivery. The drone is equipped with multiple sensors and controlled by a controller which along with the computational power from the cloud helps the robot to deliver the product by monitoring its activity. Once the drone reaches its destination it sends a request (API call) to the cloud informing that it has reached the destination. When the request from the API is received it then generates an OTP which will be sent to the user to inform and then confirm the order delivery. Once the user confirms the OTP, the order will be marked as delivered in the database. The below figure shows the architecture diagram of the Drobot Process.
The Drone selected for the prototype is a Quadcopter and has several parts like Flight Controller, ESC combined together to complete the delivery process. The frame is used for Drobot is made up of glass fiber ensuring lightweight and also durability. Four BLDC motors are used where two are configured to spin in clockwise direction and two in anti-clockwise direction. The ESC(Electronic Speed Controller) is used to control how fast the motor should spin at a given time. The Flight Controller maintains a stable flight by using the data gathered by the sensors to calculate the desired speed of each motor and send it to ESC. NEO-M8N is used as a GPS module to transmit the drone’s location to the control station. The NEO-M8N GPS module comes with a plastic coating to shield itself and it also has high sensitivity as it receives concurrent reception, so no matter wherever the Drobot is, it can receive a perfect signal. The entire system is powered by the Lithium polymer battery Pack (LiPo) as lithium batteries are known for performance, reliability and most importantly sustainability. We use Lipo Voltage Checker as the voltage regulator as it comes with an alarm which indicates low voltage or any problem in the circuit. A small box is fixed onto the frame which is used to carry the item required by the user.
The ESP8266 module is used as the WIFI module which connects the whole hardware system to the cloud to synchronize and update or inform the user when the Drobot reaches the user’s location. The instance hosted in the cloud acts as an endpoint for the Drobot to interact with the database and other cloud services.
The below is picture of the prototype which is nearing its first phase completion.
The main aim of Drobot is to not only create a sustainable and contactless delivery prototype but also provide a efficient framework for delivery of the items. This is possible by creating a distributed node system where there is a central node which is at a equivalent distant between each nodes. The idea for creating nodes is to reduce the travelling time for drone in order to save energy as well as to create a fast delivery approach. Here, node refers to Drobot Controller station where the items are loaded. This node can be anywhere even at rooftop or terrace of the house. When a user books the item, an algorithm will help to find the nearest node(Drobot Station) and intimate the Drobot station which helps in quick delivery of items.
All the essential items which are mentioned in the app will be available in all smaller nodes to transport and in case if a situation occurs where a product goes out of stock in all nearby smaller node stations then the item will be directly delivered from central node station since it acts as the main hub where the products are received. The pictorial representation of the idea is given below:-
Drobot is the prototype which aims to provide sustainable and contactless essential items delivery policy through drones and also draft a framework in order to make the last-mile delivery approach much more efficient.
The idea is recognized and funded by State Government through TANSCT(Tamilnadu State Council For Science And Technology) scheme.
The idea is in continuous development to achieve its final goal. If you wish to support my project through your knowledge you are always welcome. Please mail your support details to firstname.lastname@example.org, since I feel this idea will be better developed if many hands joined together. Thanks for reading....